Latest Artical

The pop of the bottle will get you revved up. The bubbles will cleanse your palate. The toasted brioche will warm you to your soul, and you will be filled with glee and cheer. Sommelier Brian Grandison at Hakkasan on South Beach knows how to live correctly: he starts his meals with Champagne.

Whether it's the holiday season or just your standard Tuesday, Champagne will guide you to ultimate bliss. Take a page out of Grandison's book, and start your meal, hell, start your whole day with a glass (bottle) of Champagne.

A Dim Sum Platter, fully equipped with Crystal Black Rice Dumplings, Chinese Chive Dumplings, Shrimp Shumai and Bamboo Shoot Dumplings, and Scallop Dumplings was no match for Grandison's pair, the Pierre Peters Cuvee de Reserve, Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru from Champagne, France. He looked that Dim Sum square in the eye and challenged it with Champagne. And he won.

“I could have done Sancerre or Albariño or Chenin, but you need something with a bit of spice to hold up to the spice of the chili oil,” he said. “And I could have done a Chardonnay for the butter in the shellfish, but I like the minerality of this wine. Plus, I like the bubbles to cleanse. It's just a great way to start a meal. Not to mention, you can never go wrong with Champagne and caviar.”

Grandison, you are correct, sir.

Brace yourself. Hot toddy season is upon us. And who better than a Boston bartender to thaw your insides with a steaming grog? Enter Eastern Standard Bartender Naomi Levy and her Bombilla. Inspired by a trip to Argentina and the country’s obsession with yerba mate, Levy built a toddy to showcase the earthy, lightly caffeinated tea. She mounts 1½ ounces Daron Calvados, ½ ounce simple syrup, and ¼ ounce crème de cacao into a warm mug, tops it off with steaming yerba mate, and garnishes with a lemon twist.

“Mate has earthy notes to it, root vegetable notes, as well as some fruit overtones,” says Levy, whose drink-making style leans culinary. “It goes well with apple, and cacao is a staple of that part of the world.” The Bombillo is luscious and a touch feminine with its apple notes and silky crème de cacao, but also grounded by the herbal, earthbound tea (whose short steeping time keeps drinks moving fast). 

The competition was boiling hot at the Inaugural Ramen Battle at this year's ICC. Five of the country's top Ramen Masters led their teams in an epic ramen-off from prep on Day 1 through first slurp on Day 2 for the ultimate title. 

On Day 3 of ICC, Mihoko Obunai was crowned Ramen Champion at the first-ever Ramen Battle at ICC. She mentored her team of ramen aficionados including Rising Star Chef Annie Pettry of Decca, Steven Grimes of Crane Ramen, and Duane Ward of Sensational Sauces, to victory with her Gyokai Yuzu Shoyu Ramen, beating fierce competitors Jameson Blankenship, Harold Jurado, Richie Nakano, and Youji Iwakura by a slight margin.

The secret to her winning ramen? Her land-meets-sea flavored broth. Obunai’s recipe combines the rich flavors of chicken back bone with umami bombs, including dried anchovies, dried shiitake, dried shrimp, bonito flakes, dried squid, and kombu. Her traditional toppings—pork belly chashu and aji tamago (seasoned egg)—were seasoned with the classic combination of soy sauce (courtesy of Kikkoman), mirin, and sake, while sake-steamed littleneck clams joined in for a little surf-and-turf soirée.

Her finishing touches, a floral yuzu-garlic oil and yuzu zest may have been the key to winning over the judges—Katsuya Fukushima of Daikaya, Tim Cushman of O Ya, Adam Sachs of Saveur, Isao Yamada of Brushstroke, and Wylie Dufresne—and what won her team bragging rights, Takamura knives, gift certificates for two at Ramen Lab by Sun Noodle, and Korin grill by Kikkoman.